Nokia Lumia 520 Review

I thought I’d do a quick review of my impressions of the 520, since a few people seem interested in the device. First I should note that my previous phone was a 2007 Blackberry Curve without WiFi, 3G or any sort of data allowance, it was for all intents, a feature phone despite technically being ‘smart’. However, I also own a 3rd Generation iPod touch, and extensively use someone else’s iPhone 4 which currently runs iOS7. I have no experience of Android.

First impressions are very good, packaging resembles Apple, but most things do nowadays. (In function, not design). The phone itself feels nice in the hand, and despite being rather light, doesn’t feel fragile. The otherwise cheap feeling plastic back is offset by a sort of rubberised plastic, which makes it feel a bit nicer. Size for me is a big point (giggity) and this is spot on, anything larger would just be uncomfortable to carry/stretch my thumb across the screen.

Speaking of the screen, it’s glossy and a form of plastic, rather than the Gorilla Glass of more expensive Lumias. I offset this by immediately placing on a matte screen protector, since I much prefer a matte screen, as such I have no first hand experience of the bare screen, but reviews suggest the plastic is very fingerprint prone. Unlike many, the touch screen works with gloves, and I can comment that it works very well indeed like this. Quality isn’t fantastic, the resolution isn’t great and the brightness seems a little off at times, however for the price I have absolutely no complaints.

The 520 lacks a front facing camera, compass and perhaps important for some, a camera flash, in a bid to reduce price. However, the camera performs rather well for such a cheap thing, and surprisingly gets quite a bit of light out of a dull scene, video functions similarly. However, despite being such a cheap device, it does come with a full suite of Nokia and Windows apps, many of which are immensely useful, Nokia Drive is a full satellite navigation system for whichever country you activate the phone in (additional licenses cost), and maps can be saved onto the phone to reduce data use (England is 303mb and downloaded very quickly). I’ve used Nokia Drive today in the car and it performs well, it knows all the local speed limits and has a decent selection of points of interest. Nokia Maps is a mapping app which isn’t particularly noteworthy, it does the job. Nokia Music is an interesting feature, it presents a free streaming service of regularly changing playlists created by Nokia, I’ve been listening to the 60s ones lately, and they’re rather good, especially for free. Office 365 including Excel, Word and Powerpoint is included, I’ve played around a bit and the function is good, but other than reading documents I question the need for editing documents on such a small (4 inch) screen. IE is a nice browser to use, strangely enough, I haven’t noticed any issues so far.

Third party apps vary in quality, as with all things, however I haven’t found anything missing that I ‘need’ yet. Of note is the Facebook app, which isn’t fantastic currently, it often misses notifications or requires a refresh to grab them, however with the upcoming Windows Phone 8.1 it’s reported as much improved.

Windows Phone 8 runs very smoothly indeed, and makes a nice change from the more ‘rigid’ feeling iOS, Live Tiles (which are tiles displaying regularly updated information, such as the current weather) don’t seem fully used to their potential in some apps, but those which have put the effort in are promising. Special note needs to go to the search function, which has its own place at the bottom right on all Windows phones, while some may scoff at Bing, it offers some very nice features, such as a free Shazam alternative which works well in my experience, a translation system which uses the phone’s camera, and of course regular web/on device searches.

The whole experience feels very fluid and responsive, and is very intuitive. I’m very happy so far in general, battery life is of course a concern, but coming from the phone I did to a touchscreen smartphone, battery life will always pale in comparison, so far 30 hours a charge seems about right, but I am using it more often than I normally would.

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